Oh my God. Where do I even start with this monstrosity? I was going along, minding my own business, eating my breakfast and checking out this wonderful post on Adios Barbie when I ran into this picture linked to by Allison Epstein. And I nearly choked on my Cheerios.(R) Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Look! It’s Fat Shaming with Dick and Jane:
See Dick and Jane and Pat. She Dick and Jane and Pat fat shaming Tim. See Tim. See Tim embody negative fat stereotypes. See Dick and Jane and Pat revel in their thin privilege. See Tim go on a diet. See Tim get slimmer. See Tim get fatter. See Tim get even fatter. See Mom and Dad panic. Panic parents panic! See Tim get a gastric sleeve. See Tim learn about dumping syndrome. See Mom and Dad buy Tim dark colored pants. Dump Tim dump! Oh No! Now Tim smells funny. Isn’t he funny? See Dick and Jane and Pat laugh. See Tim want to die. Die Tim, die…
The thing that really scares me, I mean full-out, ooga-booga, petrifies me, is that there are three organizations that have signed on to this ad. That means at least three, purportedly professional people (and probably more) not only signed off on, but actually paid somebody to create this crap. But that’s okay (they reason) because kids need to get out and play more, right? And research shows, the way to get kids to go outside and play is to shame them, right? Right?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no and how about, no!
Despite the ongoing research that indicates that fat shame does not lead to permanent weight loss, and that fat stigma leads to even less healthy behaviors among kids like disordered eating, binge drinking, and more smoking, various white-coat-wearing idiots feel the need to create ads like this one. Why? Are they trying to create the medical equivalent of this exercise video “accidentally” catching a pooping man on camera? (Is it an accident, or an all-new, low-bar in publicity stunts? Either way, it’s a hits bonanza!) Do they not care that they are harming families and especially children with their stupid ads as long as they fuel parental panic and get lots of clicky poos for their hit counts? Or have they really just not bothered to check any of the literature that shows that fat stigma harms people? Hmmm, evil or simply, criminally irresponsible? Hard to imagine that either are qualities I look for in a medical professional.
What is so sad, is that this ad is likely to make Tim less interested in exercise. And this ambivalence towards exercise may last a lifetime.
But for those of you out there who are still twisting a hankie in your sweaty fingers or running around in circles yelling, “But what do we do?” I have this advice. If you want Tim to exercise:
1. Create emotionally safe places for Tim to play–free from bullying or shaming.
2. Create physically safe places for Tim to play–safe from assault and other crimes.
3. Help Tim reconnect with and feel pride in the body he has right now.
4. Provide safe, well-planned and excellently-executed physical education classes, and
5. Surround Tim with role models for physical fitness that embody all shapes and sizes and abilities–like the amazing Ragen Chastain in this recent video interview from Huffington Post Live.
Seriously people. If you want kids to exercise, give them physically and emotionally safe places to do it, give them proper instruction, provide them with great role models and teach them that exercise is something that we do because we love our bodies.
Then Dick and Jane and Pat and Tim and Sally and everybody can live happily ever after. That is all.
The Fat Chick
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